[Sinn Fein]

18 July 2000

Mandelson's policing comments `ham-fisted'

Sinn Fein's spokesperson on Policing, Gerry Kelly MLA, has described today's remarks by British Secretary of State Peter Mandelson as ``a ham-fisted and transparent attempt to distract attention away from the widespread criticism of his Police Bill and its dilution of the core positions contained in the Patten Report''. Speaking in Belfast, Mr Kelly said:

``Peter Mandelson's remarks this morning were patronising of sections of Irish nationalism and ignore the united and vocal opposition to the Police Bill in Belfast, Dublin, Westminster and Washington.

``The objectives of the Good Friday Agreement on the policing issue were agreed by both governments and all the pro-Agreement parties. They are clear, unambiguous and necessary - that is, to achieve a police service capable of attracting and sustaining support from the community as a whole, and which is representative in terms of the make-up of the community as a whole. Both governments committed themselves in May to implementing the Patten recommendations.

``The Patten recommendations are the threshold - the floor, not the ceiling - of what is required. The Policing Commission's position that their recommendations be implemented comprehensively as a package and not subjected to cherry-picking needs to be adhered to. It is to be hoped that Peter Mandelson will take their advice. An acceptable policing service is a fundamental requirement of a successful conflict resolution process.'' ENDS

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